Work on the Hyde Park Picture House’s transformational redevelopment project is set to begin this April, thanks to a successful £285,600 Capital Kickstart Fund award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Combining vital restoration work with the creation of new accessible facilities, the cinema’s Picture House Project had been on pause for the past 10 months due to the pandemic but will now proceed as planned, with completion expected in May 2022.

The multi-million-pound scheme will safeguard the cinema’s nationally significant heritage, including repair and conservation of its unique gas-lamps, iconic Burmantofts tiled façade, original terrazzo flooring and Grade II listed exterior lamppost. The introduction of a new ramped entrance, accessible toilets, an expanded foyer and new 52 seat basement screen also means the cinema’s capacity and accessibility will be greatly improved.

Designed by award-winning architects Page\Park and engineering specialists Buro Happold, the project will take 13 months to complete and is being delivered by Triton Construction, with support from Gardiner & Theobald and Avison Young. During this time the Picture House will continue to screen films in venues across Leeds as part of its On the Road off-site film programme, which began last year but is currently on hold until restrictions ease.

Established to support capital projects which have been negatively affected by Covid-19, the Capital Kickstart Fund is administered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and forms part of the government’s wider £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.

News of this funding follows a £2.3million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, awarded to the Picture House Project 2018, as well as crucial support from Leeds City Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the British Film Institute and others. Later this year the Picture House plans to launch a new community fundraising campaign, asking audiences to help raise the final amount required to complete the project.

Wendy Cook, Head of Cinema at the Hyde Park Picture House, said: “After a challenging period of prolonged uncertainty, we’re over the moon that work on The Picture House Project is finally about to begin. Not only will this project revitalize and safeguard a building that so many of us love, but it will allow the cinema to become a more inclusive venue, welcoming new audiences thanks to an expanded film programme, huge improvements to accessibility and new community-focused activity for visitors young and old.”

Mark Johnston, Lead Architect at Page\Park, said: “Since we first began working with the cinema in 2016, we’ve come to learn why this little Edwardian Picture House is so cherished by so many. As architects who specialise in renewing heritage buildings, our aim, every step of the way, is to preserve the cinema’s history and character which we know are so important, whilst sensitively introducing new elements which allow the building to work for audiences in the 21st century. We’re thrilled to be part of the next chapter in the cinema's remarkable story.”

Chris Blythe, CEO of Leeds Heritage Theatres, said: “These past 12 months have been extraordinarily difficult for all three of our heritage venues, but they’ve also shown us why plans to invest in our collective future are needed now more than ever. Thanks to the continued support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I’m confident that the cinema will not only come out of this pandemic stronger and more resilient, but also able to support its audiences and wonderful community like never before.”

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: "As a city and as a society, responding to Covid-19 has required flexibility and inventiveness to an extent we didn’t realise was possible twelve months ago. While we still have a great deal of work ahead to keep managing the immediate and life changing pressures of this crisis, part of our recovery must also be about ensuring our plans, our hopes and our aspirations for the future are also realised. It’s with this view to the future that we’re proud to be supporting The Picture House Project and we’re excited that this invaluable support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund brings more national investment in the cultural and heritage infrastructure in our city.”

Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “From restoring Georgian lidos and Roman baths to saving local screens and synagogues, our Culture Recovery Fund is helping to save the places people can’t wait to get back to, when it is safe to do so. All over the country, this funding is protecting the venues that have shaped our history and make us proud of our communities, whilst safeguarding the livelihoods of the people that work in them.”